Why I started Ugly.
I’m a 4th generation farmer from Kingsburg, CA. My family and I have farmed everything from wine grapes, raisin grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines, olives, almonds and various row crops in California. Prior to farming in California, my family farmed in Kansas and Minnesota. If you’re wondering how The Ugly Company came to be, and why I started it.. here it is…
In 2014, I moved back home to Kingsburg after serving in the U.S. Army. I had ambitions to rejoin my family farm and work with my Dad and brother. I realized there wasn’t a way to make a decent living or have a legitimate career farming with my dad. So instead, I got my truck driving license and got a job heavy hauling bull dozers, excavators and other construction equipment. I left that job after a year and started my own trucking company in conjunction with starting my own farm through leasing raisin vineyards on short-term leases.
One of the functions of my previous company, Big Ben Farms, was to haul “Ugly” fruit from farms to various disposal sites – landfills, unplanted fields, dairies, and compost yards.
Every time I hooked up to a load of ugly fruit, I would grab a few pieces of fruit for myself. I always thought to myself “dayummmm that is a lot of fruit bout to get dumped out. I wonder why no one has figured out a way to use it all.”
I decided to start the Ugly Company during the summer of 2017 after two significant hurricanes made landfall in Houston and Puerto Rico. The aftermath that followed caused me to reflect – there was a massive food shortage in Puerto Rico. Yet here I was, hauling perfectly edible fruit to landfills while people were in need.
Based on my experience farming, I clearly understand the economic reality of why edible fruit gets dumped out daily by the thousands of tons. I know that there really isn’t anyone to blame for this reality – there’s a multitude of contributing factors that aren’t initially easily understandable.
So, I decided to sell my trucks and equipment, and I set out to become part of the solution to an issue that I believe can be solved.
In the coming months I hope to use this blog to shine light on the reality of food waste at farms and what can be done to solve the problem. I will always seek to present solutions to problems in conjunction with the decisive action that we, at The Ugly Company, take every day.
I will explain everything from why I chose to structure Ugly the way I did, why Hello! I’m Ugly is our brand, how I financed the company and got us initially off the ground. I will offer my perspective on the economics of food waste at farms, why waste exists and what consumers can do to create the change we seek. You’ll also hear from others in the Ugly crew – why they joined our company and the perspective they gained along the way.
I hope that this blog offers a window into who we are at The Ugly Co. and what motivates us come to work every day. I hope this blog adds value to anyone who chooses to read and engage with it.
Thank you all for the support!